Who is to say what is offensive?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by naughty, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. naughty

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    Workin' up a good pot of mad!
    I have a question. In the past month, I have twice shown avatar's of black women in slave garb. I have expressed my feelings about certain words related to my own ethnicity. I have never in my life received more comments from people outside my own ethnicity about it than here. Explain to me what it is about seeing me in slave garb or showing a picture of a black woman in slave garb that so upsets the nerves here? If I as a black woman chose to put this up as my avatar , who is to tell me how I interpret my ethnicity? I am not in any way making fun of servitude or being black. What is the issue here? Are you reading things into my avatars that are not there? Who is to tell me what is offensive about interpreting my own culture? There is no self hate here. I celebrate the men and women who lived this life and died in silence. If this offends you what does it say about you and how you see the world? Please comment....
     
  2. frizzle

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    I find it hard to find anything offensive anymore. But then again I am a white male aged 18-45 so it's very hard to find anything wrong with us and offend us.
     
  3. DC_DEEP

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    Naughty, I could probably write a dissertation on why some people some people feel a desperate need to be offended at just about anything. Sometimes, it's nothing more than that's what they have been told to be offended at. Sometimes, it's guilt-transferrence - they feel guilty about something that someone else did, and have to overcompensate for it.

    Funny thing is, it's usually someone outside any given group that starts the PC-police action. Or at least it seems that way.

    In my short lifetime, the PC continuum has gone from colored to Negro to Afro to black to Afro-American to persons-of-color to African-American. I may not have those in exact order, and may have left out a couple. I don't know how many of those changes were influence by the NAACP and how many were white folks trying to be as inoffensive as possible, but there you have it. I've always been referred to as "white." I would most likely have found it amusing and annoying if it had gone from colorless to Caucasian to Euro to white to Euro-American to person-without-color to European-American.

    You have always come across to me as proud of your heritage, without a chip on your shoulder. I can't think of a higher compliment to pay to you in that regard.

    If anyone has a problem with your avatars, it's their problem. Don't let it bother you!
     
  4. AlteredEgo

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    Um... I dunno?
     
  5. Principessa

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    Oooo, EXCELLENT TOPIC! I have a few thoughts on this but am late for a doctors appointment. I'll get back to y'all on this for sure.
     
  6. MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK

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    Naughty, I think that too many times in society we see various representations of what might also hint slave garb or demeanor but always fail to act upon being over critical. Example? Two general household products, both of them representing black depictions, yet no one finds them offensive. Aunt Jemima pancake & syrup, and Uncle Ben's rice.


    Don't ever feel like you have to be concerned about what anybody else thinks of your depictions- last I checked, the constitution still allows for freedom of expression.
    For my feelings, you have more than your rights to celebrate & take pride in your heritage, & honor those who have given alot to justify that pride.
     
  7. naughty

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    Thank you guys, Im sorry I was having a moment. It has been a tense month around here and I am once again blowing off some steam. It is a tough call sometimes how one should deal with issues. What doesnt offend personally may offend someone else because of their own personal experiences. I dont by any means want to create a situation by my stance which makes others comfortable in making racial slurs. I think we need to talk about these kinds of things and hopefully diffuse some of the negative power that they have come to represent. I know that depictions of servitude have been used in the past to make others feel shame for their ancestry, but how sick is that? I have had ignorant comments made to me while wearing the costume of a black woman in servitude. When I was younger and thinner I did not get references to Aunt Jemima or Mammy, but as these changes took place I used it as a teaching opportunity. Uncle Ben and Aunt jemima' smiling faces are symbols of a time when being black was put up for ridicule. However, when I see them and I don my costume, I think of them and all of those who they represented who lived their lives in quiet dignity and hope to be a woman that they would be proud of and to tell their story right and do them proud.
     
  8. Ethyl

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    My friend in Seattle who happens to be a black woman collects this kind of paraphernalia. Black Sambo, "pickaninny" artwork, et al. When we lived in Chicago and would go flea marketing, I was taken aback at first by this discovery and wondered why she would want to collect such things. After spending more time with her, I realised I was the only one who was slightly uncomfortable with the idea of her collection. Why was I uncomfortable? My naivete led me to believe that owning those items was a blind acceptance of what those represented in years past. That wasn't the case of course. I thought they should have bothered her too, given their origins for existing. Embracing your culture and acknowledging the past is not the same as believing and living antiquated notions. When she explained that to me, I realised I was the one with the problem so I got over myself and saw the art and figurines for what they were. She's an amazing woman.

    That's my 2 cents. I don't know this is an answer to your question, Naughty. I hope it helps. :dunno:
     
  9. Shelby

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    At least you get to celebrate your heritage.

    Sometimes it feels like no matter what, ethnic minorities still do and always will see me as this.
     
  10. SpeedoGuy

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    Well said.

    Offensive is in the eye of the beholder.

    Certain things offend me, and I might even say why they offend me, but it would be presumptuous of me to expect others to conform to my notions of morality.
     
  11. Ethyl

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    S'ok, Shel. Some men I work with still see me as nothing more than a walking pussy waiting to do their bidding, despite my talents and abilities. At least you don't have a glass ceiling to contend with.
     
  12. BurningVenus

    BurningVenus New Member

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    Then keep your sheets on your bed. Your avatar is vile, reprehensible and offensive. Collecting black memorabilia is not 'celebrating.' But i suspect you know that and that you want to hurt and offend others.
     
  13. vinny_spiruccino

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    Uh oh, here I go...

    Pocahontas is one of the most well know figures in American folklore, and is mostly heralded as the Native American who saved the white man... at the expense of her own people. Nonetheless she had a strong diplomatic skill set even when she was considered "savage" and dressed in native clothing, long before she was civilized and became a Christian wearing European clothing.

    Now follow me... "Mammy" & "Prissy" from GWTW, Aunt Jemimah, you know the stereotypical slave woman as prtrayed in Naughty's avatar - though they were technically wearing European clothing, they managed to arrange it in distictively African style - headwraps and all. Though their own culture had been denied them, they managed to subtly maintain their identity and THAT is a beautiful thing. Though facing brutal oppression, they survived and so did remnants of their culture. In the scraps they were given as clothing, they distinguished themselves as individuals. Likewise in the food, the LANGUAGE, the church service ritual... they rejected the white classification of them as non-persons, embraced their humanity, and celebrated their culture.

    I've posted before about my experiences growing up in the Black Church, and to this very day on any given Sunday you may not see slave-era clothes, but you'll still see remnants - bright clothes, rhyme-stones (sorry Naughty; couldn't resist) and big flying saucer hats, tipped over to the side taking the place of the traditional head wrap...
     
  14. Shelby

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    True.

    On top of that your hotness probably intimidates the hell out of a lot of them.
     
  15. Shelby

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    You spell pretty good for a dumbass.
     
  16. ManiacalMadMan

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    You are aware of the fact that the topic title here is WHO IS TO SAY WHAT IS OFFENSIVE? Every body has their own thoughts on this a while back some one used an avatar of a hangman's noose or some thing of that nature and people lost it If no one had said any thing it would not have been given much thought. Many of the avatars here are bothersome to me but they exist Quite honestly yours bothers me Your eyes look so awful I want to hurl should your avatar be banned? Some would say yes. Don't like it? Too bad and that works both for my feelings about it and what ever feelings you have about my thoughts on your nausea producing avatar.
     
  17. Osiris

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    Now here I go. My wife sitting across the table from me hearing me read this thread had this to say to Vinny's very on point post:

    "I see it as more of a sign of their strength. To have to survive under those circumstances and still maintain their culture. They should be celebrated."

    Naughty, you and I have had this chat. I am black and proud (No need to shamelessly out me Arliss :wink: ). My Aunt collected the slave-ploitation stuff. Growing up we saw it all... Aunt Jemimah, Uncle Tom, Brer Rabbit (VERY much slave related), etc. When asked why she collected all that she would tell us this:

    This is our strength as a people. Those who tried to strip us of our ancestry and culture, failed and these are the signs of how they failed. Yes, these are images the white man has of us back then, but look at Aunt Jemimah? Women did dress that way and they dressed to show their indiviuality. This is also a reminder of where we once were and where we have gotten to through years of bettering ourselves under adverse situations.

    As Vinny said, they Africanized it.

    Anytime this issue comes up, I think about Jimmy the Greek.

    Most members here won't rememberhim, but he was the top sports statistician in the 60' and 70's and worked for CBS Sports. One day he was having lunch with a reporter and having an "off the record" chat. Came the first question:

    Why are there no black managers in major league sports?

    Answer:

    "Because nobody wants them there."

    Next Question:

    Why are there so many black athletes then?

    And the answer that started a firestorm:

    "Because they are built for it. They have leg muscles that are powerful and go up into their backs. It goes back to slavery. Master would get a big black man and mate him with a big black woman and get a big black baby that was strong and fast."

    Suddenly, it was all over the media and oddly enough, more white people were offended by this than black people. The black people who got offended were more the younger, more militant crowd, but I remember thinking:

    "He didn't say that is what he believes, he just told the truth about what the mindset was about us during slavery."

    Our ancestors were seen as livestock. We weren't people in the eyes of the typical slave owner. Hence why Aunt Jemimah, Mammy, Prissy, etc. are such historical icons. They maintained their humanity and in doing so a good amount of their dignity as people.

    Our family is a rainbow coalition (I'm black, wife is white, two stepsons that are white, an adopted son who is white [I adopted my youngest stepson], and a gorgeous daughter who is multi-racial). They have all been taught that I laugh at the stereotypes, do not use the "N" word, and pretty much laugh at those who try to pidgeon hole me through race. they are taught to truly combat racism, you have to learn to laugh at the stereotypes. In doing so, you take the wind out of the racist's sails. Racism is about anger and if you laugh at these idiots, you've already won.

    Sorry to go on so.

    Naughty? I love your avatars and I'm honored to know such a gracious, warm, and educated black woman such as yourself.
     
  18. Shelby

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    God bless you and your family Osiris. People like you give me hope.
     
  19. Osiris

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    It's not about black or white, it's about people and we try to raise our kids like that.

    Thank you for the compliment.
     
  20. simcha

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    Do you know the difference between an adjective and an adverb?

    Adjective = Modifies a noun.

    "Good" is an adjective.

    Adverb = Modifies a verb.

    "Well" is an adverb.

    So, you used "spell" as a verb. That means the proper modifier to express the meaning you wish to convey (that her spelling is good) is "well." So, if you are going to write using proper grammar you would write:

    "You spell pretty well for a dumbass."

    I just wanted to make sure you were celebrating your heritage as an English speaker fully.
     
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